Some days are easier than others. When we debuted Grandma last year at the LA Invasion drag race in Fontana, we had all systems go from the beginning. A few shake down runs, and everything did what it was supposed to. I guess that’s rare, because I know better. Everything rarely jells first time out.
With Project 666, our Fox-body Ford Mustang almost 2 years in the making, this year’s LA Invasion was a day of trials and tribulations. Leading the charge for 666 was shop wizard Sean Goude, trusty wrench and sales guy Tom “Terror” Bobolts, myself, and my pregnant wife Melissa. We were a motley crew.
To quickly recap, our Fox-Body is equipped with a 525 hp 408 Windsor, and we’ve always felt it had the stones to run low 11s or even high 10s. This day served as a test day, so we weren’t expecting any miracles. Mid 11s would have made us happy. The first few passes were slated as easy 1-2 gear runs, just to sort out the suspension and handling characteristics. We also know the motor was solid as we had tuned it on the dyno before making the trailer trip up to Fontana from our Temecula offices. 460 rwhp should get that job done.
Here is our story, pass by pass. Also, there are two videos for your enjoyment. One, a complete series of all 5 of our runs, and the second, 3 runs shot with our hand Go-Pros.
Video: Project 666 Testing:
Plan for the first run was go through the first two gears. I did a nice smokey burnout, and it turned out that I found afterward only the right tire was spinning. Since we had a Detroit Locker, that meant that the locker didn’t lock due to the fact the turn from the lanes to the burnout box was so tight. After the burnout, I rolled up to the line, revved the engine to about 3,500 rpm, and let her fly. The car launched and then bogged, tripping a 1.65 60-foot, but it made a pretty decent move to the left. I hit second gear, I heard a nice bang, and then lifted before I hit third gear and just coasted the rest of the way.
On the return road, there was a distinct scratching noise coming from under the car. Great, I thought. A post race inspection revealed that the one of the wheel weights was rubbing on the brake caliper.. it was totally our fault, as we put some stunning new Weld wheels on literally the day before we left for the track, and just didn’t have the time to check them. Eventually, the wheel weights just came off and were flapping against the caliper. Regarding the move to the left, we decided to reset the Team Z sway bar to neutral, and double check all of the shock settings. The bang? Turns out that we had failed to remove the factory bump stocks on the chassis, and that lovely noise was the rear end slamming into the bump stops on the shifts. Lovely. 60-Foot: 1.65, 1/4 Mile: 13.57 at 108.25 mph
Pass Number Two:
Same routine as last time but I pull into burnout box, straighter this time. Both tires are spinning. Check. Release line lock. Car just sits in burnout box and I lift off the throttle. What the heck. Line lock is stuck engaged. Click it a few times, it releases. Must be some junk in the solenoid. Then I drive out of the water box thinking, I’m sure there is water on the tires. Do two little dry hops to try to shake the water loose. No luck. Launch at 3,500 rpm, the car spins to a 1.70 60-foot, and then revs so fast with slightly wet tires it’s at 6,500 rpm and climbing before I can hit second gear. Hit second, but the car spins badly and I shut it down. At least it went straighter this time. And no more scratching noises coming from the wheel weights. Goes 12.80’s at only 84 mph. Time slip says: 60-foot: 1.708, 1/4 Mile: 12.813 at 84.71 mph
We can’t take apart the line lock because we don’t have the right stuff to bleed the brakes. Nor can we likely repair the line-lock at this point. We think there is something stuck inside the line-lock like some debris that is keeping it from holding. On top of that, doing a burnout manually is not happening due to the way our brake bias is setup. That means, essentially, no more serious burnouts for the most part. Pass three was our best, despite a 1.76 60-foot and “granny shifting” to avoid having the car spin badly between gears. The car felt really strong, and we also learned that the car will not shift over 6,500 rpm. This is likely due to the fact that we have a street clutch and a non Pro-shifted stick. And keeping the RPM down between gear changes is pretty challenging with our burnout situation. Overall, it was about 98-degrees during this run at noon, and we went 11.91 at 120.24 mph, with a 1.76 60-foot.
Pass Number Four
As it gets hotter, the track gets more greasy, and our difficulty in the burnout box becomes a bigger liability. We keep our fingers crossed the line lock will stick, but that just didn’t happen. I managed to go a 1.63 60-foot, and we went a 12.11 at 120.17 mph. My style of driving was aggressive and resulted in tire spin and RPM flares between shifts as the tires broke loose, then causing the trans not to want to shift. It was pretty frustrating. So I just literally lifted before second gear this time and then eased it back in gently. Without a nasty burnout, the only way to get 666 down track was a driving style like your old Grandma in her ’78 Malibu.
Pass Number Five:
More of the same. Lots of power, 97 degree weather, and crappy e.t’s. 1.64 60-foot, and a 12.10 at 121.23 was the result. It actually said 98-degrees at one point in the Expedition. I let out of it almost completely in second gear and got back into it in third again. At this point, we knew we had gotten everything out of her that we were going to. However, Terror Tom wanted to make a few laps in the car to start to get the feeling for a car on slicks, and with advice to “take it very easy” he cruised to some high 12-second runs at 117 mph, with just 1.9 60-foots. He had a blast, and there is no doubt that 666 will find him at the wheel again.
Video: In Car:
We’ve learned a lot, and we’ve got a lot of work to do before we take 666 out again. The biggest change is going to be the fact that we’ve finally realized that Project 666 is a race car that looks like a street car, and not a street/strip car. With a carb’d 408 getting 10 mpg, and another engine even more serious waiting in the wings, it’s just not going to be driven to the track at this point.
So we’re going to get more serious with a race-only setup. That means a spool will be slipped into the rear end, and – gulp – a C4 automatic is going to find it’s way in the trans tunnel. We’ll keep you posted – we hope to have her back on the 1320 within 30 days. And this time, we’ll make sure we can do a nasty burnout.
It will be 10.80s or bust.